Thursday, July 05, 2012


My sweetheart came over the other night, caked in dust and grime, shivering.

"I think I've inhaled too much lead today," he said.

No pantywaste, this one. All sinew and bone, tough as jerky, a rusty spike.  I replied with a family chestnut.

"You're imaging things."

Yet another restaurateur in T.O wanted the distressed look. Reclaimed chic. Dan had been sawing, sanding and finishing barnyard wood for a week. Barnyard wood  is poison, full of feces and nails and apparently lead. Dan works in a shop that makes melamine factories in China look appealing. I examined his bloodshot eyes.

"You're fine."

Two hours, Advil and an epsom salts bath later, Dan passed out on my couch, blankets tucked under his chin. The temperature outside was 37 degrees with a humidex of 42. I suppose I should have taken his temperature.

I don't know from lead intoxication. My biggest workplace hazard is a paper cut. What I do know is that there probably are more farmhouse restaurants opening up in T.O then there are farmhouses in Southern Ontario.

I remember reading about developers bulldozing vast areas of rural China, to build suburbs. At one suburban mall there's a restaurant with a rural Chinese theme. Maybe some woodworker in China is inhaling lead from the reclaimed wood he's finishing for the restaurant.

People want wood in their homes, restaurants and offices because they crave nature. Electronic communications technology has dulled our senses. Possibly made us dense. Have you ever watched anyone under 25 try to make change at the local megamart checkout line without the aid of electronics? It's truly frightening. I feel quaint being able to count.

I suppose the elegantly blighted maple, pine and spruce at some of Toronto's most trendy spots brings comfort and a sense of continuity to the folks who frequent these establishments. I just deleted "debit-ridden entitled automatons". "Folks" is less judgmental. I am one of them, one of the urban zombies who's starved for natural history. Just don't take our electronics away. Do that and who are we? Who are we now?

Dan update: He is not longer shivering. This week he is outdoors helping to build a Zen studio.

Sitting at this computer, communicating via email, I'm the one who feels sick.

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